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Not pretty, but Cougs outlast Eagles

Not pretty, but Cougs outlast Eagles
Not pretty, but Cougs outlast Eagles
North Harrison players line the dugout seeking help through a rally hat ritual while teammate Micah Napper (2) awaits a pitch. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Lanesville was encouraged by the sticks coming to life and pep in the dugout against North Harrison on a cold and windy Friday afternoon.
A five-run fourth inning, however, lifted the host Cougars to a 10-8 victory over their Harrison County foes.
It had been a busy early part of the week for North Harrison, earning a 1-0 shutout over Mid-Southern Conference foe Brownstown Central on Monday, then a five-inning no-hitter thrown by Micah Napper against rival Crawford County (15-0) on Wednesday.
‘We’ve been playing real well,’ North Harrison coach Jamie Polk said. ‘Today, for whatever reason, we didn’t play very well. It was our worst game of the season. I just didn’t get them ready to play, and we’re better than we showed today.’
Breaking a 5-all tie in the fourth inning, North Harrison doubled its run total in the frame, all scoring with two outs.
Tyler Cockerham hit an RBI single and was followed by Kyle Jennings (hit by pitch) and Brad Novak (walk) reaching base.
Bringing in a pair of runs, Napper hit one of his three singles on the day. He was followed by Craig Waynescott coming up with a single of his own. Lanesville eventually induced a Jacob Faith fly-out to stop the damage.
‘Our thing has been battling with good approaches at the plate,’ Polk said. ‘We know to never give up.’
The Eagles didn’t give in either. Brandon Blackerby and Stephen Shaffer had consecutive singles, followed by Justin Miller reaching on an error. Lanesville would get one run in the top of the sixth when John Ferree plated Shaffer with a hit.
Down 10-6 heading into the seventh, Lanesville put the first two on with a walk and a single. With two down, Miller lined a single down the line to score two runs. A ground out closed the game, leaving the possible tying run stranded on base.
‘We had some pep today,’ Lanesville coach Rusty McCubbins said. ‘Typically with these guys, the mental toughness hasn’t been there. But we saw today that is getting there, too. When we were down, the typical reaction would be to roll over and die, but we kept fighting.’
McCubbins said the bats are coming around for his team after struggling the first few outings. During the first five games, they struck out 45 times, including 21 times looking.
‘At Crawford County (last Tuesday), a couple defensive breakdowns cost us a little, but we struck out only one time,’ McCubbins said. ‘Timing is starting to get there so we feel the first two weeks were our preseason. Pitching has been plenty good enough to win and the bats are waking up. We’re getting more confident.’
Blackerby and Shaffer had three hits each for Lanesville, while Spencer Dauphinee, Ferree and Miller had two each.
‘We knew we’d be behind offensively,’ McCubbins said. ‘Now that we’ve played a few games, we’re starting to swing the bats and rise out of the dark.’
It wasn’t the cleanest of games for the Cougars. A mix-up on a short pop fly by Spencer Dauphinee behind shortstop saw the ball drop between a triangle of Cougars. The miscue allowed Miller to score after he drove in Blackerby, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
‘We messed up the in-between ball, which fired me up,’ Polk said. ‘That play gave (Lanesville) confidence. You could see it fired up their dugout. I told our guys they tightened up a little and hesitate. Win or lose, we want to play loose and our game.’
North Harrison got on the board quick in the bottom of the first to gain the lead. Brad Novak drove in three runs with a triple to deep center.
Able to retake the lead in the third, the first four Eagles ‘ Blackerby, Shaffer, Miller and Ferree ‘ reached base. Ferree had an RBI single. Next up were Dauphinee and Kyle Rottet, who hit deep sac flies to plate runs.
North Harrison bounced back in the bottom of the frame, plating two to knot the score. Napper, who was 3 for 4, blooped a single to right, scoring Cockerham. The Cougars were able to get the lead back in the fourth and hold off the pesky Eagles.
‘We won’t talk too much about this game (as a team) but look to get better from it,’ Polk said. ‘We did a lot of stuff today we don’t do. It wasn’t repetitive things, but little things that can be fixed.’
McCubbins said he was encouraged by the effort, win or lose.
‘When we play schools bigger than us, we are using those guys as a measuring stick to see where we are and where we need to be,’ he said. ‘When we can compete with a bigger school, then we know we’re on the right track … We’ll look at this loss as a positive because a lot of good things happened.’
Derrick Harter earned the win on the mound for North Harrison, pitching five innings, striking out six. Dauphinee took the loss, striking out four in 4-2/3 innings.
North Harrison will host rival Corydon Central tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 p.m. Lanesville will get back into action Saturday when it plays a doubleheader at Borden, starting at 11 a.m.